The Get More Smarter Podcast: John Hickenlooper

We mentioned on Friday that we would have some bonus content for The Get More Smarter Podcast, and here it is: An in-depth interview with current U.S. Senate candidate and former Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Listen in as host Jason Bane talks with Hickenlooper about campaigning during coronavirus; what he thinks about the government response to COVID-19; what it’s like to be a Governor in a time of crisis; and the challenges of getting your hair cut during a quarantine.

If you missed last week’s episode, check it out when you’re done here.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

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Welcome to “The Coronavirus Election”

With the lack of a coordinated national strategy for dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, news outlets across the country have been focusing heavily on the languid response from the Trump administration and the “every state for itself” dynamic that has emerged from the federal government’s ineptitude.

Here in Colorado, Republicans in leadership positions — including State GOP Chair/Congressman Ken Buck, House Minority Leader Patrick Neville and Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert — have busied themselves by questioning decisions made by Gov. Jared Polis, local health officials, or Congress in general. In states, counties, and congressional districts where elected officials have acted quickly to combat the coronavirus spread, communities are weathering the storm much better than in places where leaders — often Republicans — have dithered.

 

As Politico explained over the weekend, coronavirus is now the top election issue of 2020, and with that understanding comes serious electoral consequences:

What remains on the air has adapted to the new reality of American life. High-spending issue groups on the left are slamming Trump for missing the mark on his virus response. Priorities USA has budgeted more than $6 million to run anti-Trump TV and digital ads related to the virus in battleground states. Unite the Country is touting Biden as a steady-handed leader necessary in a time of crisis.

With the obvious caveat that there is still a lot of time to go until Election Day, it would be tough to argue that Republicans are not in trouble thanks to the actions of many of their leaders. A majority of Americans now disapprove of President Trump’s coronavirus response after a brief jump for Trump early in the crisis.

As Greg Sargent writes for The Washington Post, any comparison between President Trump and likely Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden comes out clearly in Biden’s favor:

We’re now learning that President Trump’s efforts to promote an anti-malarial drug for use against the coronavirus is causing internal administration tensions. Anthony Fauci, the administration’s own leading expert, privately challenged this optimism about hydroxychloroquine, and fittingly, Trump prevented Fauci from publicly reiterating this skepticism at Sunday’s briefing.

Only hours earlier, Joe Biden presented a striking contrast. On ABC’s “This Week,” Biden called on Trump to exercise the Defense Production Act to marshal the private sector to speed lifesaving equipment to hospitals, urged stricter social distancing and reiterated the need to “follow the science” and “listen to the experts.”

It’s now clear that this stark contrast could define the 2020 campaign. Democrats are unveiling new ads highlighting Trump’s serial failures to take the coronavirus seriously. Meanwhile, the Trump campaign is urging surrogates to claim, laughably, that Trump is “leading the nation” in the “war against coronavirus,” and to cast the former vice president as “the opposition in that war.” [Pols emphasis]

We wouldn’t want to be in charge of trying to make this message work when there are SO MANY terrible Trump quotes on the pandemic — many of which Americans have already seen and heard repeatedly.

Here in Colorado, Republicans don’t have a lot of positive news to share about coronavirus response efforts. It’s fair to say that Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) will be favored to win re-election in his heavily-Republican district, an advantage also enjoyed by fellow Congressmen Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs). But if any of these races tighten, the incumbents don’t have much to talk about other than their efforts to blame China for the coronavirus. Unlike Buck, Lamborn, and Tipton, Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) hasn’t completely buried his head in the sand, but backing the largest government spending bill in congressional history doesn’t jibe with his long, vocal opposition to any form of stimulus spending and will be hard to explain to whatever base of support he still maintains.

As for local elected officials, their flighty contrarianism won’t age well. As we wrote last month:

…once again Colorado Republicans have positioned themselves as a brand on the wrong side of the issue dominating the headlines and impacting the lives of every Colorado voter. In a state already becoming more hostile to Republicans at the ballot box in every election, branding themselves as the “COVID resistance” party as a way of contrasting with our state’s Democratic majority government seems extremely ill-advised…

…Republicans are inviting a backlash from voters in November that could be truly historic.

The coronavirus outbreak is one of those history-defining moments that people will never forget. The 2020 election will proceed accordingly.

Worried About COVID? Become a Trump Gold Card Member!

The fundraising solicitation emails from President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign have been raising eyebrows since well before impeachment escalated them into appeals to total war–but today’s coronavirus-themed missive to the faithful to pony up for victory still managed to leave us with our jaws a bit agape under our homemade face masks:

It’s no secret that our Nation was hit with a huge unforeseen challenge. We are in the midst of an all-out war with a dangerous invisible enemy, and our success will require the full measure of our strength, love, and devotion.

While I’m fighting for the safety of our Nation and its citizens, I need to know that you are fighting for me too. [Pols emphasis] I recently saw the roster of Trump Gold Card Members and noticed that your name was MISSING from the list.

You’ve always been one of my strongest and most loyal supporters, which is why I’m reaching out to give you one LAST CHANCE to activate your membership. When you join, my team will even send you your very own PERSONALIZED Gold Card…

In these trying times, Americans should welcome any advantage they can get! So here’s a poll:

What should you get with a Trump Gold Card?
Your very own COVID-19 test
Ventilators for your state without your Democrat governor having to grovel
Ventilators for your state without FEMA buying them out from under you
At least some Tesla CPAPs
A Costco pack of toilet paper from the Strategic National Stockpile
Taiwan lets you take credit for their global charitable donation
Mike Pence will pray for you
Not sure/other (specify)
View Result

Just in case anyone was wondering, we’re kidding, and we’re pretty sure your “Trump Gold Card” will not give you any kind of preferential status in the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Internal Revenue Service, or access to lifeboats on “unsinkable” ships. It’s a nice gimmick though, and it’s certainly possible a few low-information donors will want one in their pocket just in case. Hopefully they’re not spending their SSI checks.

Safe to say that the donors who have bought in at a sufficient level…don’t need cards.

Get More Smarter on Monday (April 6)

Today is “New Beer’s Eve,” apparently. Please celebrate responsibly. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

Big news outlets across the country are digging in on the Trump administration’s coronavirus response, and the conclusion is basically the same everywhere: #FAIL

Here’s a sampling of that coverage:

Via The Washington Post (4/4/20)

From The Washington Post:

Despite these and other extreme steps, the United States will likely go down as the country that was supposedly best prepared to fight a pandemic but ended up catastrophically overmatched by the novel coronavirus, sustaining heavier casualties than any other nation.

It did not have to happen this way. Though not perfectly prepared, the United States had more expertise, resources, plans and epidemiological experience than dozens of countries that ultimately fared far better in fending off the virus…

…The Trump administration received its first formal notification of the outbreak of the coronavirus in China on Jan. 3. Within days, U.S. spy agencies were signaling the seriousness of the threat to Trump by including a warning about the coronavirus — the first of many — in the President’s Daily Brief.

And yet, it took 70 days from that initial notification for Trump to treat the coronavirus not as a distant threat or harmless flu strain well under control, but as a lethal force that had outflanked America’s defenses and was poised to kill tens of thousands of citizens. That more-than-two-month stretch now stands as critical time that was squandered.

 

From The Associated Press:

The government’s stockpile of critically needed medical supplies and equipment is nearly drained just as the numbers of people infected with the coronavirus and in need of critical care is surging. Back in January, the first alarms were sounding about the outbreak in China. In time, it would become a global pandemic. An Associated Press review has found that the Trump administration squandered precious months before bolstering the federal stockpile of urgently needed medical supplies and equipment.

Via The Washington Post (4/5/20)

From Max Boot in The Washington Post:

Until now, I have generally been reluctant to label Donald Trump the worst president in U.S. history. As a historian, I know how important it is to allow the passage of time to gain a sense of perspective. Some presidents who seemed awful to contemporaries (Harry S. Truman) or simply lackluster (Dwight D. Eisenhower, George H.W. Bush) look much better in retrospect. Others, such as Thomas Jefferson and Woodrow Wilson, don’t look as good as they once did…

…This fiasco is so monumental that it makes our recent failed presidents — George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter — Mount Rushmore material by comparison. Trump’s Friday night announcement that he’s firing the intelligence community inspector general who exposed his attempted extortion of Ukraine shows that he combines the ineptitude of a George W. Bush or a Carter with the corruption of Richard Nixon.

 

Via The New York Times (4/6/20)

From Frank Bruni of The New York Times:

Do you remember the moment when President Trump’s bearing and words made clear that he grasped not only the magnitude of this rapidly metastasizing pandemic but also our terror in the face of it?

It passed me by, maybe because it never happened.

In Trump’s predecessors, for all their imperfections, I could sense the beat of a heart and see the glimmer of a soul. In him I can’t, and that fills me with a sorrow and a rage that I quite frankly don’t know what to do with.

 

Via Vox.com (4/2/20)

From Vox.com:

President Donald Trump’s failure to respond to the coronavirus pandemic didn’t begin with the administration’s inability to send out the millions of test kits and the protective medical gear for health care workers that experts say are needed to tackle the crisis. It didn’t start with Trump’s bungled messaging downplaying the crisis even as it’s worsened, nor with his mid-March insistence that social distancing measures could be lifted by Easter (he later backpedaled).

It began in April 2018 — more than a year and a half before the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the disease it causes, Covid-19, sickened enough people in China that authorities realized they were dealing with a new disease.

And how has Trump responded to this criticism? Exactly as you would expect:

 

Governor Jared Polis is fighting it out with the federal government as Colorado rushes to get enough ventilators to patients. From The Denver Post:

Colorado was making a deal with a manufacturer for an order of much-needed ventilators when the Federal Emergency Management Agency swooped in and took it themselves, Gov. Jared Polis told CNN on Friday night.

It was one thing for states to be competing among themselves for vital resources to fight the novel coronavirus, Polis said. Now they’re competing against the federal government, too.

“Either be in or out,” Polis told CNN’s Don Lemon. “Either you’re buying them and you’re providing them to states and you’re letting us know what we’re going to get and when we’re going to get them. Or you stay out, and let us buy them.”

Prior to Polis’ comments, CNN reported that Colorado had an order canceled for 500 ventilators, among other supplies, because the items were being bought by FEMA. A congressional source told CNN that Colorado was told it was not on the priority list and the state would have to find its own supplies.

Meanwhile, Gov. Polis is asking the federal government for more help as a fourth big coronavirus response legislative package begins to take shape.

 

► Michael Atkinson, the former intelligence community inspector general, is speaking out after being fired late Friday by President Trump. From CNN:

The former intelligence community inspector general, who informed Congress of the whistleblower complaint that led to President Donald Trump’s impeachment, said Sunday that he believes Trump fired him for doing his job.

Michael Atkinson said in a statement that he was “disappointed and saddened” by Trump’s decision to oust him on Friday, with the President stating that Atkinson did not have his “fullest confidence.”

“It is hard not to think that the President’s loss of confidence in me derives from my having faithfully discharged my legal obligations as an independent and impartial Inspector General, and from my commitment to continue to do so,” Atkinson wrote.

CNN’s Chris Cillizza explains why Atkinson’s firing is a big, BIG deal.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

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Risky Business: Throwing Trump Under The Bus To Save Gardner?

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

From time to time over the years, we’ve had occasion to sit back and marvel that the outlandish editorial pronouncements of the devoutly conservative Phil Anschutz-owned Colorado Springs Gazette. From accusing Gov. Jared Polis of “ties to the Ku Klux Klan” for misplaced dramatic effect to their comically absurd hagiographical write-ups about 2018 GOP gubernatorial capital-L Loser Walker Stapleton, we’ve found pretty reliably that editor Wayne Laugesen’s reality-starved opinion pieces are best read with a laugh track playing in the background.

But in today’s Gazette, Laugesen looks to have outdone himself in the over-the-top propaganda department–and that, based on his long record of relentless Pravda-style pro-GOP hype, is no small statement. Had it come five days ago, we might honestly have dismissed this as an April Fool’s Day joke:

Long before Americans knew a global pandemic would disrupt and threaten their lives, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner tried to warn Congress. Few cared to listen, distracted by shinier Washington drama… [Pols emphasis]

“The rapid spread of a respiratory pathogen is a serious concern given our global economy and citizenry, as well as our role as both travel destination and transit hub for the world,” Gardner wrote. He never heard back from Pompeo or Redfield.

Gardner’s warning came as Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the CDC’s Redfield downplayed the coronavirus threat. The two highly competent men of science relied in good faith on bad information given to them by the Chinese government and the World Health Organization.

Phil Anschutz, owner of the Colorado Springs Gazette.

It’s true that Sen. Gardner, in his capacity as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Subcommittee On East Asia, The Pacific, And International Cybersecurity Policy, held a hearing back in January on the COVID-19 outbreak. But what’s missing from this narrative is even a peep of criticism from Gardner for these high-level Trump administration officials the Gazette would have us believe blew off Gardner’s supposed alarm bells stretching back to January. If Sen. Gardner was “prophetic” as we’re asked to believe in this editorial about the impending pandemic, why did Gardner host a rally with President Donald Trump attended by thousands of socially undistanced Republicans in Colorado Springs almost a month later?

And where has Gardner been all these months while Trump was telling people COVID-19 would “disappear?”

The whole premise of this editorial defense of Gardner is ridiculous enough that it collapses entirely after one or two basic questions. But for Sen. Cory Gardner, whose staff is eagerly distributing this editorial today via social media, the political danger here could be more significant than being made to look silly. Because in order to credibly give Gardner the kind of lavish praise the Gazette gives him for “warning the Washington establishment, even as the CDC director continued telling us not to worry,” it is necessary to acknowledge the Trump administration’s catastrophic failure to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s simply not possible to have this both ways.

Folks, President Trump doesn’t like it when his “loyal” Republicans go there.

This editorial might play in Colorado Springs, but Gardner had better hope Trump never sees it.

The Get More Smarter Podcast: COVID Conspiracies

We’re a little late this week with a new episode. But then again, days of the week have lost all meaning anyway.

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk with House Majority Leader Alec Garnett about everything the state legislature is not doing at the moment; we discuss the many ways in which local Republicans are digging coronavirus holes for themselves; we try to make rational arguments for two coronavirus conspiracy theories; and we find Sen. Cory Gardner unfamiliar with the man in the mirror.

Look out next week for some bonus content, featuring an exclusive new interview.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

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Pols Virtual Meetup Friday 4/3 5 pm

(Reupping since this is coming up later today – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Update: Time set for Friday, April 3, 2020 at 5 pm. Michael will post a link that anyone can click on to  join. You can be anonymous or not- it’s up to you. Harrydoby, Jason Salzman, MADCO, Dio, Miguel, Gertie, Voyageur, Duke, R&R, deathpigeon, Curmudgeon, Pseudonymous, Canines, TooJung, Neon, Whisky Juliet, nancycronk, Awen, Erik M, ParkHill,itlduso, Pear, Elliot, DeadGuvs,  many others….You’re welcome and invited. Hop on to the meeting and say “Hi”.

People chatting on computer
Polsters! Want to Have a conversation about politics and share your La Rona survival strategies….or talk about anything but politics and coronavirus? Has sheltering in place turned into climbing the walls? Want  to have a social conversation with someone you don’t live with, take for poop walks, or see in the mirror every morning?

Want to put a human face on that person whose posts you like or dislike?

Now’s your chance. Michael Bowman has agreed to host a Zoom virtual meetup for Coloradopols readers, writers, editors, administrators, lurkers, trolls, and anyone else. He can host up to 100 people at a time, and said that he’s flexible about when the meetup happens, but would prefer evenings or weekends. I care for a wannabe toddler most mornings, but other times are ok. Please respond in comments with level of interest, and best times to meet.

Logistics

You will need to decide what device to use- and then download the Zoom ap on that device. Business Insider has a how-to page, that is actually better than Zoom’s own.  You can choose to show live video of yourself, or an image or avatar. Others will hear your voice, but the label  attached to it is up to you. It will use the camera and microphone of your device. For all devices- download the ap, then click on the link to “join a meeting”.

You don’t need a Zoom account to join a meeting- but you do need the app.

Arapahoe County GOP Removes Candidate from Ballot for Not Being a Republican

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Arapahoe County Republicans booted a state House candidate from the ballot after discovering he was not registered as a Republican, which disqualifies him from running for office as a Republican under Colorado law.

Monahan

The candidate, Steve Monahan, announced his run for the House District 3 seat back in February, and it took about a month for Arapahoe County Republicans to discover that Monahan was registered as an Unaffiliated voter and to remove his name from the ballot prior to assembly, which began Saturday, according to a source.

The decision left Bill Klocek as the only candidate for assembly delegates to choose from on the ballot, and he got 100% of the 56 votes tallied, according to results distributed by Arapahoe County Republicans.

A call to Monahan, a pilot, seeking to know if he thought he was treated fairly by the Arapahoe County Republicans was not returned.

Klocek did not immediately return a call from the Colorado Times Recorder.

Klocek

Frolich was appointed to the House District 3 seat by fellow Democrats after Jeff Bridges resigned to fill a state Senate vacancy. Bridges beat Republican Toren Mushovik in 2018 by 23 percentage points.

House District 3 covers parts Cherry Hills Village, Englewood, and Greenwood Village. It’s currently represented by Democrat Meg Froelich.

Gardner, Kushner To Maybe Have Words At Next Fundraiser

Tsarevitch Jared Kushner.

As Politico’s Burgess Everett reports, Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado is asking the Department of Health and Human Services for an investigation into the management of the Strategic National Stockpile as a shortage of crucial medical equipment like ventilators looms:

Sen. Cory Gardner is pushing for an investigation into possible mismanagement of the Strategic National Stockpile of ventilators needed to treat coronavirus patients — though the Colorado Republican is by no means going to war with the Trump administration over the matter. [Pols emphasis]

The GOP senator wrote a letter to the Health and Human Services inspector general on Thursday requesting a probe into reports of maintenance issues and delays regarding the distribution of ventilators from the national stockpile to states. And in an interview on Friday, Gardner said that “any kind of mismanagement or abuse needs to be rooted out and those responsible held accountable.”

President Trump and Cory Gardner in Colorado Springs (2/20/20)

Gardner’s request for a second look here is timely, after President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner made some controversial statements about the stockpile’s purpose, in response to angry governors including Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado who are begging for these supplies in their states:

Responding to criticism of the federal government from some governors, Jared Kushner, a senior White House aide and President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, said on Thursday that the federal stockpile of supplies is “supposed to be our stockpile” and that it’s “not supposed to be states’ stockpiles that they then use.”

Gardner said his letter is not a response to that comment, [Pols emphasis] which he learned of late Thursday, but he pointedly questioned Kushner’s statement in the interview.

“I don’t know what Kushner was talking about, what he meant. But the stockpile is for the country. And the country is made up of states in the federal government,” Gardner said.

No reasonable person is going to object to Sen. Gardner sending a letter about the Strategic National Stockpile, or complain when Gardner is able to prevail on his relationship with officials in Taiwan to arrange a shipment of personal protective equipment–a couple of days’ worth of which is reportedly headed to Colorado. But Gardner’s continuing refusal to hold the Trump administration responsible for the failure of the U.S. government to confront the pandemic over the course of months speaks louder than any of these belated gestures.

Once again, Gardner is–at best–trying to clean up a catastrophic mess while ignoring who made it.

BREAKING: Classrooms Closing for Rest of School Year

After the jump you can read a copy of the letter sent out at noon today to parents of students in school districts including some of the biggest districts in the state: Adams, Denver, Douglas, and Jefferson.

The key phrase: “there does not appear to be a viable way for us to convene traditional in-person learning this school year.”

To be clear, today’s announcement is only from 14 of Colorado’s school districts, but it’s probably a good bet that the rest of the state will soon follow this example.

(more…)

Get More Smarter on Friday (April 3)

Hey, you made it through another week of this — that’s not nothing. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

The Trump administration is struggling to actually implement many of the economic relief measures contained in last month’s $2.2 Trillion spending bill. First, here’s CNN on those stimulus checks that were supposed to be coming right away:

Americans likely won’t begin to see direct payments from the coronavirus stimulus bill until at least April 13 and it could take 20 weeks for all the checks to be mailed, Trump administration officials told lawmakers, according to a House Democratic memo obtained by CNN.

The timeline means tens of millions of Americans will have to wait to get badly needed assistance, despite repeated earlier suggestions from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that the money would go out as soon as April 6.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is also confounding the banks, as The Washington Post reports:

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin vowed from the White House podium yesterday that small businesses battered by the coronavirus epidemic could access $350 billion in taxpayer-backed cash quickly starting on Friday. But as the rescue effort debuts, banks are concerned in part about how to assess the risks of small businesses applying for assistance directly to them, even as the federal government is guaranteeing those loans.

JPMorgan Chase, for instance, posted a notice online that it won’t be accepting applications from prospective borrowers. “Financial institutions like ours are still awaiting guidance from the SBA and the U.S. Treasury,” it said.

Banks are asking questions about the length of the loans, the interest rates they can charge, and how much due diligence financial institutions are responsible for performing on borrowers

Take the politicians out of Washington D.C.! Put businesspeople in charge! This is working out great!

 

Is the White House overestimating or underestimating the potential death toll from COVID-19? Nobody knows, because it’s unclear how the White House came up with its projections. From The Washington Post:

Leading disease forecasters, whose research the White House used to conclude 100,000 to 240,000 people will die nationwide from the coronavirus, were mystified when they saw the administration’s projection this week.

The experts said they don’t challenge the numbers’ validity but that they don’t know how the White House arrived at them. [Pols emphasis]

White House officials have refused to explain how they generated the figure — a death toll bigger than the United States suffered in the Vietnam War or the 9/11 terrorist attacks. They have not provided the underlying data so others can assess its reliability or provided long-term strategies to lower that death count.

Some of President Trump’s top advisers have expressed doubts about the estimate, according to three White House officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. There have been fierce debates inside the White House about its accuracy.

There is a non-zero chance that President Trump literally picked these numbers out of a hat.

 

As CNN reports, two top Trump administration officials were publicly voicing concerns about U.S. readiness in the face of a pandemic LAST APRIL:

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Tim Morrison, then a special assistant to the President and senior director for weapons of mass destruction and biodefense on the National Security Council, made the comments at the BioDefense Summit in April 2019.

“Of course, the thing that people ask: ‘What keeps you most up at night in the biodefense world?’ Pandemic flu, of course. I think everyone in this room probably shares that concern,” Azar said, before listing off efforts to mitigate the impact of flu outbreaks.

The Trump administration is facing scrutiny over its preparations for the coronavirus pandemic and its slow response to provide states and cities assistance in testing kits and personal protective equipment. The 2019 summit, hosted by the assistant secretary for preparedness and response in the Department of Health and Human Services to “discuss and solicit input on implementing the National Biodefense Strategy,” offers insights into early awareness of the potential for a pandemic threat.

Transcripts of Azar’s and Morrison’s comments at the summit, which have not been previously reported on, are available on the HHS website.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly said no one predicted a pandemic crisis like the one caused by coronavirus. [Pols emphasis]

 

Here’s the latest fact-checking from CNN of President Trump’s coronavirus “news briefings.”

 

► Weld County has surged to the top of the list in Colorado for the largest number of coronavirus deaths. Weld County is represented in Congress by social distancing skeptic Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley). Sure, maybe it’s a coincidence.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

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COVID-19 Tragically Zeroes In On Rep. Ken Buck’s Weld County

Rep. Ken Buck, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party.

9NEWS reported last night that Weld County is being hit very hard by the expanding COVID-19 pandemic, now tied for the most number of deaths in the state so far–a tragic distinction disproportionate to the county’s population:

Weld County is tied for the highest number of deaths in the state related to COVID-19. 16 people have died in the area. The county also has one of the largest number of cases, even though the number of people who live there is far less than other counties.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment says there are 329 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Weld County, roughly the same number as El Paso County. The population of Weld County is nearly 400,000 less… [Pols emphasis]

Patients with COVID-19 symptoms now crowd the emergency rooms. Steven Loecke is the Chief Medical Officer for several Banner Health hospitals in Northern Colorado. He says the hospital in Greeley is seeing the most action.

Although the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic necessarily has enormous political implications, and the response to the outbreak by government authorities from the President of the United States to the smallest municipalities is a principal factor now in every voter’s decisionmaking, even the most partisan political diehards can agree that significant components of the response to the pandemic have been carried out with overwhelming bipartisan agreement–most recently the massive $2.2 trillion stimulus bill to blunt the effects of shutting down large parts of the economy to contain the disease.

With that said, the “resistance” to public health measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic has overwhelmingly come from one political party, Republicans–including President Donald Trump himself until he was belatedly convinced to take the crisis seriously. In Colorado, Rep. Ken Buck, who also serves as chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, has enthusiastically led the opposition to the statewide stay-at-home order by Colorado Gov. Jared Polis. In Congress, Buck’s repeated votes against the successive coronavirus relief packages–in one case one of only two votes against in the entire chamber–have significantly raised Buck’s national profile, earning him cable news appearances and adulation on the far right.

As readers know, Rep. Ken Buck served as the District Attorney of Weld County before his election to Congress, and Weld County is one of the two population centers of his district along with similarly conservative but more affluent Douglas County.

Folks, we don’t want to spell this out. If we do, some in the chattering class will say it’s “too soon.”

But how can you not connect these dots? And how can the resulting outrage not transcend politics?

These are hard words to write. But to not write them would be the greater disservice to our readers.

County Chair Rejects Calls From Other GOP Leaders to Resign Over COVID-19 “Hoax” Post

(Awesome branding exercise underway – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Several Colorado Republican leaders are calling for El Paso County GOP Chair Vickie Tonkins to resign after she used the party’s official Facebook page to ask followers if they believe the COVID-19 pandemic is a manufactured hoax.

She also confirmed to Colorado Politics reporter Ernest Luning that she wrote on her personal Facebook page that the outbreak is a “PSYOP,” using the same term she posted to the county page. The post has since garnered bipartisan national attention, including a tweet from Guy Benson, political editor of the conservative blog Townhall, and coverage from the left-leaning sites Raw Story and Huffington Post.

Denver GOP Chair Kristina Cook, joins former county chairs Jake Viano (Denver), Joe Webb (Jefferson) and Eli Bremer (El Paso) in calling for Tonkins to step down.

Former El Paso County Chair Eli Bremer first flagged the post and shared it with other Colorado Springs conservative Facebook groups.

Reached for comment, Tonkins dismissed criticism over the post itself, attributing it to the tension between the establishment and grassroots elements of the party, and claiming Bremer had other reasons for sharing the post:

“The individual [Bremer] that started the misinformation of my saying Coronavirus is a hoax…which I never said…does not like the fact a black woman is in the position and won by over 60 votes… The grassroots said they wanted something different and who could be more different than me.”

While Tonkins did not state that Coronavirus is a hoax on the El Paso County page, she did describe the outbreak as a “PSYOP,” in a comment exchange on her personal page. Another El Paso County Republican, Missy Ward, shared a screenshot of the comment.

El Paso County Republican Chair Vickie Tonkins

Tonkins responds:

“Ward, without my permission, took a screenshot of my personal page and made this a story. The post may not have been up for even an hour…but they saw an opportunity to get me, I guess. Not sure why they hate me so much but that is what it is.”

Tonkins also says she was focused on those who are suffering financially during the pandemic.

“My intentions, which my naysayers say we should always look at, is that people are not just dying from this virus, people are losing their jobs and can’t pay their bills and is time we step up to help them. Maybe had I put “the media thinks” [in the original post] I would have been heralded as a hero. This has been blown out of proportion by my haters and I say let’s move toward helping our communities which is my heart and the heart of the Republican Party. People are making this about politics and I am thinking about people!”

Joe Webb, who led the Jefferson County GOP until last year, concluded his own public Facebook post about the incident by insisting Tonkins resign, and calling on the county party’s executive committee to remove her if she doesn’t.

This is not a time to play politics but because Vickie Tonkins added to the public health emergency and may have assisted in making the curve steeper regarding infections she needs to resign as Chairman of the El Paso County Republican Party at once. If she fails to do so then members of the Executive Committee must take matters into their own hands within social distancing parameters. We all need to contribute to flattening the curve. Many other reasons exist for her resignation but I listed the most serious one. Personal responsibility for your actions should matter.

Denver GOP Chair shared Webb post noting that she agreed with Webb. She added that Tonkins’ post jeopardizes the Republican Party’s mission of electing its candidates.

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